Vista, The Dog Of All Operating Systems

Last July, when I first started thinking about getting a new computer, I wrote about my Vista worries, based on everything I’d been hearing about it. Then came December, when I finally bought my new computer with Vista, since that’s all that was around (well, I could have paid extra for XP, but that didn’t seem so smart), and I hadn’t quite had enough time to truly evaluate it.

Now I’m about six months into it, and I think I can give an honest evaluation of it; Vista is the dog of all operating systems. To be fair, I never tried ME, which I heard was pretty bad, so I don’t know about it. But compared to all the other Microsoft operating systems, it’s the worst.

Since I’ve had this computer, it’s crashed twice. By crash, I mean the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). That’s actually not so bad when I consider what my other computer used to do. Still, this isn’t a dog of a computer; it’s got real power in it. This time, I know it’s not the computer itself, but the operating system.

The problem is the 64-bit thing. There aren’t all that many programs, at least older ones, that will work properly in the 64-bit setting. Many of my programs wouldn’t load into this OS. Some that did loaded into a different Program Files directory. Vista has two, those programs it likes, and those that it tolerates.

Some of those that it tolerates are their own products, though older versions. I have the Office 2003 suite, which I loaded. You’d think I wouldn’t have any problems with it, but it does, probably because they wanted everyone to go to Office 2007, which I saw and didn’t like.

Anyway, on my computer, there are certain programs where, if I let the computer go into its own energy saving mode, will freak behind the scenes and cause me minor grief when I come back and shake the mouse. One is Webshots; another is my email program, ECTOOL. A third is Top Style, the program I use to create my HTML pages. If those were open when I left, they’ll have corrupted when I come back. That’s not so bad, as I just have to shut them down, then reopen them again. Of course, if I hadn’t saved what I was doing in Top Style, I have to do it all again.

The real culprits, though, are Word and Excel, the two Office programs I use the most. They totally change how they look, and they freeze. Luckily, when I close them both back, they’ll have saved the files, since I made the settings save those files every 5 minutes. However, today, something new was added to the mix.

I had a business meeting that lasted about 3 hours today. I came back to the office, and once again the files had corrupted themselves. Word, my email chess program, Top Style and Webshots all had decided to pick on me. I went to shut down Word, as I had two different files open on it, when the computer decided to die on me. I got the BSOD, which is the second incidence ever that I mentioned earlier.

Then it started to reboot on me, which has never happened to me before, never on XP, and not the first time on this computer. I figured no big deal, except I’d had a Notepad file open that had some information I really wanted to keep. Then I realized I hadn’t heard a sound I’m used to hearing when the computer boots up, and looked on the screen to see something saying “ERROR LOAD OS”. What the hey? I tried hitting the button to shut the computer down, and instead it started to reboot again.

This happened a few times, and the start button never went off. I tried pulling the plug, waiting a bit, then put it back in. The first couple of times the light was immediately on, which was strange. The last time it was off when I plugged in, but it still wouldn’t boot up properly.

At that point, I knew it was time to try to boot into safe mode, so I did and it came up just as it was supposed to. I thought that was kind of odd, based on the error message I’d gotten, but I ran a quick diagnostic, and everything came up fine. I then rebooted in regular mode, but lo and behold I got the same error message again.

This time, I rebooted, but decided to go into the BIOS. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, but thought looking around wouldn’t hurt. Everything looked pretty normal until I got to the area where it talked about boot order. Oddly enough, I noticed things had changed. For whatever reason, Vista had changed the boot order so my computer was trying to load my USB external hard drives first. Now things made some sense. I don’t have any OS on either of the external drives, but once Vista recognizes it as a hard drive instead of a floppy or CD it thinks that’s the drive and that’s that. In safe mode, your USB connections don’t work the same way, as in your computer won’t boot safe mode from an external source like that, which is why that worked.

I changed the order to have my main hard drive first, saved it, booted up, and all is fine with the world once more. But I’m thinking that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen, the BIOS changing orders like that.

In any case, it’s made me disdain Vista even more than I already was. I hate that so many of my good programs won’t work. I hate that things such as Zone Alarm won’t work because they won’t create it in 64-bit. I hate that I can’t run my Dragon program, which had been relatively new, because they want me to buy the latest version at $150 to work with Vista; nope, not happening. I hate that Vista didn’t come with a fax program, so I’ve had to purchase one. Yeah, the professional version came with it, but it wasn’t offered when I bought this sucker; well, I didn’t want to pay an extra $200 for it.

There’s a rumor that Best Buy will be offering a special deal for the upgrade to Windows 7 the last week of June, even though it won’t be released for awhile. I’m hearing nothing but good things about it, however, if I go this route, I don’t want to buy an upgrade, but the entire program when it’s ready. So, for now, I’m stuck with what I have, but now have to be more cognizant of what I leave open when I leave the house, or go to bed.

And that just stinks.

Are You Twitter Selfish?

Twitter’s really been getting a lot more attention lately. When I did the interview on Sunday, we talked a lot about Twitter, and the habits, or lack thereof, for some people who are there in some capacity.

When I wrote my post back in February on why I don’t follow some twitter people, I highlighted some thing that were bothering me about how some people were using it at the time. It never crossed my mind then that I’d have some more gripes about how some people are using it, but I do, and, thus, this post.

I’ll ask the question directly of you; are you Twitter selfish? Some of you are, and I’m not calling anyone out. There are different degrees of selfish, some that are really irritating, some that are what they are. But they will probably tie in with the link to why I won’t follow some people on Twitter.

To start with, I get lots of people following me. I think I’m up around 1,650 at this juncture, give or take a few. Last week Twitter went through and cleaned out a lot of spam accounts, which dropped a lot of people from main Twitter users; I’m not sure how much I got hit, but mine is still pretty big.

What many of those people are hoping is that I’ll follow them; heck, at some point almost everyone wants to be followed. Almost, that is. One of my wife’s friends was over here two weekends ago and asked me about it. When I went to her account, she was stunned to see that messages she wrote to her son were visible. I told her everyone who followed her could see every message she writes to everyone unless she protected her updates. Instead, she went gonzo and deleted her entire account; so be it.

Anyway, I get notification of every person who’s newly following me; most people do. I go in and check out their Twitter page. I look at the messages to see if they actually ever talk to someone. Twitter gives you the first 20 initially; I’ll go through at least 60 messages to see if that person is engaging others in some fashion. If not, I’m not following them, plain and simple. Yes, it’s possible they’re putting out stuff I might be interested in. But if I can’t drop them a quick message and know that there’s a chance they might respond to me, I’d rather not have to deal with it.

I won’t follow someone who doesn’t show they’re participating in the Twitter experience at all. I can’t figure out why any legitimate person wants to follow so many people, yet never says anything to anyone. They’ve been on Twitter two months and have only written 2 or 3 messages, or possibly have never written anything at all. Nope; I’m not following them. They may continue to follow me, but I won’t reciprocate. Thing is, if they ever did write me, which wouldn’t be part of their pattern, I’d see it, and then I’d think about it. But until then, I’m not doing it.

Of course, last time I talked about this land grab for followers and how I didn’t support it, and that’s continuing. More and more people are sending out links saying “get 100 Twitter followers a day”. What the heck are most people going to do with that many followers a day?

Now, I’m not against lots of followers. I want lots of followers also, just like I want more RSS subscribers (and if you’re not following, I hope you do; easy, just look to the top right). But I have lots of things I want to share with people, from three blogs and two business websites. I actually like to talk to people on Twitter, which I do every day. I like to share things I find, and that others find, with those who are following me but not necessarily anyone else I’m either following or who’s following me. I like to be sociable.

And, really, that’s the crux of things. Twitter is called “social media”, and it is. But sociability isn’t a one way street. It’s not supposed to be about “me”, but about “we”. And, unless you’re a news service that I know isn’t a one person operation, that’s keeping me informed about what’s going on, I expect interaction of some sort, even if it’s not always with me. If that’s not going to occur, then I can learn about you in other ways. Heck, someone else is probably going to share your link, and I’ll see it that way if I’m interested. I don’t like selfish, and I’m an only child!

And there you go. What’s this, post #35 about Twitter? I’m sure there will be many more coming; Twitter doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

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Two Interviews Of Me

I consider myself lucky to have the friends that I do. Sometimes it leads to some pretty nice stuff, I must say.

Of course y’all already know about my newspaper appearance. What many of you may not know is that I just had my second live online interview last night with Beverly Mahone of BAM Enterprises.

The first interview was back in January on the general topic of reinventing oneself, something I’ve become a master at. If you’d like to listen to that hour long interview, you can download the MP3 here.

Last night’s topic was something different. It was on social media and SEO for websites and/or blogs. We talked about all sorts of things, and it was another hour that went by way too fast. It always feels good when you can present some of your knowledge to a new audience, and they’re really interested in it. If you’re interested in listening to that one, you can download that MP3 here.

Truthfully, I’ve said a lot of those same things on this blog, but there’s a lot I have never covered here, which means I’ll have lots more to talk about; you poor folks! Hey, at least we have another relatively short post here. 🙂

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Don’t Forget Safe Mode

A few days ago, a friend called me, distressed because she couldn’t get her computer to do anything. She kept saying something about a program telling her she had multiple viruses and malware, and to buy something. I told her to stop, don’t do anything, and I’d be right over.

I got there, and she said her son admitted to downloading some online golf program from a site he’d never been to before. She then said she’d been trying to download an antivirus program, but she’d lost her internet connection. I told her that if she didn’t already have an antivirus program on her computer that it was too late.

I put in my USB drive and was able to move the programs I was going to try to run onto her desktop. However, none of my programs would open. I tried opening some things on her computer. The browser would open, but it wouldn’t access the internet. The explore window opened, but none of the programs would open. I couldn’t get the task manager or control panel to open. And I couldn’t get to the C prompt either.

I tried rebooting first, but to no avail. I then remembered to boot up into safe mode. That was smart, but none of the programs I needed to access were there. See, when you boot into safe mode, you’re suddenly someone else, probably the administrator, and the administrator didn’t have access to the desktop of the original user. So, I had to reboot normally, then move everything to the C drive, and reboot again into safe mode.

Once it was back up, I went to the C drive and decided to start with Stinger. It’s the quick down and dirty virus checker from McAfee, free always. The problem, though, is that I had a version from last September; you always need to keep up to date if you’re going to use Stinger. It found nothing, which I figured might happen.

Next I decided to run the major program, Combofix. A few months ago, I worked on one of my computers, and I was able to get rid of every virus and spyware/adware piece of junk except one Trojan that just wouldn’t go away. Running Combofix killed it. Usually it likes to access the internet while it’s doing its thing, but in this case, you can’t access the internet while in safe mode. But I knew I had the latest version, as I’d downloaded it before I went to my friend’s house, so I wasn’t worried about it.

I ran the program, and it took about 25 minutes. It needed to; it’s hard to believe, but in one download her computer ended up with almost 200 viruses and registry entries. You never know what you’re going to get if you load something and haven’t verified where it came from. But at this point the computer was pretty clean.

While still in safe mode, I went into the control panel, then into add/remove programs. I knew which programs were associated with the virus; I can’t tell you why, but I just did. I deleted every program, and since it couldn’t access the internet or give me any other grief, especially after the cleaning Combofix gave it, they all went away submissively.

I booted the computer system back into real time, and it came up with no issues except not having any protection. I decided to start off with Zone Alarm, which added a firewall to her computer. You can’t use Zone Alarm with Vista unless your computer is 32-bit, which mine isn’t. But it’s a great program, and fairly easy to use for the uninitiated. It’s always best to start by adding the firewall program first to block anything sneaky that might still be on the computer.

Then I put on AVG’s free antivirus program, and, because I know she and her family don’t have a real clue as to how to protect themselves, I added the security toolbar, which I wouldn’t use myself. Then, for a final bit of protection, I added AdAware for spyware/malware checking, and decided to go ahead and run that. It found 114 instances total of spyware and malware; I started thinking that maybe some of this stuff was there before today’s incursion.

However, after just about 4 hours, her computer was clean, and now it was protected. But it could have taken a heck of a long time if I hadn’t remembered safe mode. So, now you won’t forget it either. But protect yourselves!

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Things To Remember After You Change Your Theme

A couple of weeks ago, I decided the theme for my finance blog, Top Finance Blog, was kind of dark. That, plus the background for it was actually a template and not just a color, and I couldn’t come close to matching the template color when trying to set up my Adsense on it. So, I decided it had to be changed, and went with the one that’s there now.

I liked the theme because it was pretty clean, but things were off for some reason. I finally figured out that all the stuff I’d had on my previous theme, which had two right sidebars, was missing. I went into the Appearance areas, into the widgets, and saw that instead of just right and left, this new theme had an area that just said Sidebar, but it didn’t go anywhere. The theme I chose allows for different kinds of customization.

What I’d forgotten early on was that every time you change a theme, you need to go back to your old theme and copy any customization you made to it, and move it to the new theme. I did that, and everything looked good once more.

Then a few days ago I decided to check the stats on some of my websites, went to that one, and I didn’t have a single visitor. I knew that was wrong because I’d been getting comments. Then I remembered that I hadn’t transferred the Google Analytics code to the new theme either. That’s one of a couple of codes I have in my themes that I can’t just see by looking at my blog, which is why I’d totally missed it. Went back, copied that code, and all is right with the world once more.

It’s an important thing to remember to check all of your coding when you change your theme. You never know what important thing you might be missing until much later.